Sunday, August 31, 2014

Picture Perfect

Hey there! I've decided to enter Elly's (http://a-girl-named-elly.blogspot.com) photo contest. Hope you like the photos!
Category 1: People

Category 2: food
I took this at a little cupcake place in town. They make the cutest cupcakes!

Category 3: animals
I found this little dog sitting picturesquely on a stoop in Spain. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

First Day

Today was my first day of high school. I don't have much to report. Basically it was more like an orientation for freshmen, rather than a real school day. Only ninth graders were there, and we went around all our classes and only stayed for ten minutes, to get to know our teachers a little. There are so many buildings and hallways and classrooms; it's very confusing.

My mom always takes pictures of me on my first day, so here's one for you. Kind of a little mini fashion post, I guess, with all my new clothes I bought the other day.
Shirt - Urban Outfitters
Jeans - American Eagle
Braces - the orthodontist :P

Monday, August 25, 2014

Birthday, Fair, Henna, and More!

Hello there! A ton of things happened over the last couple of days, so sit tight.

First thing's first, I had my birthday party, and I turned 14! I am officially a teenager! I know you're probably thinking, Um, no, 13 is a teenager, but in my head you're not really a teenager until your 14, when you're actually going to high school and such. Soooo…welcome to my real teenager life!

For my birthday party, six of my friends and I all went to the fair. It was, to put is simply, awesome. We went on tons of rides, some mild some incredibly scary and thrilling, we drank Coke and lemonade, and ate fried dough and fried Oreos. At the fair, they fry EVERYTHING. They had fried Oreos, fried candy bars, fried Twinkies and even fried pickles! They were called frickles. And no, I did not try them. Not really my thing.

We got there at around three and didn't leave until almost nine. We also went to the art exhibit, because I submitted one of my drawings (above). It won a green ribbon. I had so much fun, and hopefully all my friends did, too. Back at my house, we had pizza, and then I pulled out a box of Sharpies and a pair of new jeans and my friends and I doodled all over them. So now I have an awesome pair of jeans with cool scribbles and funny drawings on them.

Presents were amazing. My friends are awesome and they all got me cool things, including pretty shirts, cute earrings, little erasers that smelled like exotic tea, real exotic tea, a geode, a camping hammock and lots of other stuff. By the time we got done with all of that, it was late and everyone was tuckered out from running around the fair for five hours, so we decided to leave the cake until the next morning and go to bed. Two of my friends who needed to get up early went upstairs to sleep, where it was quiet, but the rest of us stayed downstairs and talked and laughed until 2:30 in the morning.

The next day we cut the cake and gobbled it up. Every year I get an ice cream cake from Ben and Jerry's, and this year was no exception. It even had a narwhal on it. The rest of the morning everyone just hung out, until at noon it was time for them to leave. One of my friends, however, is staying at my house because her parents are out of town, so she stuck around. My other friend stayed late and then jetted off on a Skidoo to her little vacation house across the lake. Yeah. Pretty cool.

My friend and I went home, and then put together her DIY henna kit and drew henna tattoos all over ourselves. It was super fun and they turned out really cool. You can get henna kits at craft stores or online, and I definitely recommend them as an activity to do with your friends.

Today, two of my friends and I went downtown and shopped all morning. We went to a bunch of stores, like Pac Sun and American Eagle and Urban Outfitters. I think Pac Sun is my new favorite clothing shop. All the clothes are so awesome and they have tons of cool patterns and I am just in love. Urban Outfitters is cool, too. And American Eagle was having a sale on jeans, so I bought a pair. All in all, I bought a pair of jeans and three shirts and then a few other accessories at a couple of different stores. A successful shopping spree, in my opinion.

Tonight two of my friends and I are having our annual day-before-school starts sleepover, and then in two days, BOOM, I'm a high schooler.

Oh, and I won't even mention the whole kid-pulls-the-fire-alarm-and-firefighters-come-and-evacuate-the-whole-restaurant incident. You're welcome.

Hope your last couple of days were as fun as mine!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DIY: Pressed Flowers

Hello there! Today I'll be showing you a super simple DIY: Pressed flowers! 

What You Need
1. A variety of flowers from your garden
2. Two sheets of wax paper
3. A couple of heavy books

What to Do
1. Lay the flowers out flat on a sheet of wax paper. How you leave them is how they will preserve.
2. Cover them with the second sheet.
3. Carefully place the heavy books on top.
4. Now we wait. Flowers actually take a very long time to press. I had to press mine for a couple of weeks. For best results, wait as long as possible.
5. After a few weeks have gone by (and if it's summer, those weeks will pass in a blink), remove the books and carefully peel the flowers from the paper. Voila! Perfectly pressed flowers!

You can use them for any purpose, from scrap booking to other arts and crafts projects. I actually put some of mine in the cover of my new binders for school, and they look really cool.

Have fun!
Some flowers that I put in my English binder


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hello, High School

High school.

I'm going to be a freshman. New school, new people, new teachers, new everything. This is probably going to be the biggest school transition of my life, even bigger than going from elementary to middle school. See, my schools were right next to each other, practically the same building. As a young'un I had occasionally ventured into the middle school building to use their gym or go to their library, so I knew the place pretty well, and it wasn't such a big deal when I moved from fifth to sixth grade.

But now I'm going to a whole new building, which I barely know at all, with over three times the number of students than there were in my middle school. There are six different buildings, and they all look exactly the same. Back in May all us incoming freshman went to an orientation, where seniors showed us around, but after the tour was over I still had NO idea where anything was. I mean, that place is HUGE.

If you're shaking your head as you're reading this, thinking, Oh, you are such a wimp. My school has 3000 kids in it, well good for you. But going from 350 students to over 1000 is kind of terrifying to me.

And here are some of my other concerns: what if all the classes are super hard? What if I fail? What if I get a ton of homework? High school is the really critical part of your education; what you do in those four years can determine your future forever. I mean, colleges are going to be looking at your records, deciding if they like you or not, if you're a good student, that kind of stuff. HIGH SCHOOL CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR FUTURE.

I probably sound dramatic. And I know everyone says freshman year is the easiest, that you'll look back on that year fondly as you sit down to take the SATs. But that's like telling a kid at the doctor's office that it won't hurt a bit to get a shot; that at the end of the process they'll realize it wasn't so bad after all. When doctors say that, it does not stop me from worrying. When kids say freshman year is easy, it really doesn't ease my mind.

So there you go. All my fears poured out into a couple paragraphs for the whole Internet to see. If you have any advice for me about starting high school, or if we share any of the same fears, feel free to comment.

High school, here I come.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Book Review: Starbird Murphy and the World Outside

Starbird Murphy and the World Outside, by Karen Finneyfrock

Sixteen-year-old Starbird lives on the Free Family Farm in Washington State--what you and I, as “Outsiders” might refer to as a cult. On the Farm, everyone is part of the Family. Children don’t know who their biological father is; all the men are thought of as dad, and all the women are thought of as mom. Most of the Family has never touched money, as it can corrupt you. Many Family members are “off-gridders”, meaning that because they were born at the Farm they have no birth certificate or Social Security number. Everyone is given a name--names that would seem strange you and me, like Venus Lake or Gamma Lion--which is Translated by the Free Family’s founder and leader, EARTH, who is supposedly spoken to by the Cosmos. The Cosmos instructed him to start the Farm, and they tell him how to make decisions and when to go on Missions.
    But when Starbird was just shy of 13, EARTH left on a Mission to go find more Family members, right around the same time that Starbird’s brother, Douglas Fir, ran away from the Farm. Now it’s three years later, and both of them have yet to return.
    Everyone in the Family receives a Calling--whether it be to live in a treehouse or have another child--and when a position opens at the Free Family Cafe in Seattle, Starbird is doubtful that it’s hers. But then she learns that her last name is Murphy, and that her mother disobeyed EARTH and gave birth at a hospital, meaning that she is not, in fact, off the grid, and can legally work. Add all that to the fact that the boy she’s in love with might not have feelings for her, and Starbird decides she might as well just pack up and move to Seattle. But Seattle means braving the complicated world beyond the Farm, and dealing with Outsiders and non-Believers. Is Starbird really ready for the World Outside?
    I enjoyed this book for many reasons, one of them being that the topic is just so different than any other book I’ve read. I mean, it’s not every day that you pick up a book and read about communes in rural Washington. It was interesting reading about life on the Free Family Farm, and thinking about the differences between it and my life on the “Outside.” On one hand it seems like it’d be nice to live on the Farm--everyone shares everything, and helps each other out--and on the other hand the idea of never touching money or using a cell phone, and being “off grid”, just seems weird.
    However, parts of this book are still relatable. Starbird, after being homeschooled all her life, is dumped into the Seattle public school system, left to fend for herself in the confusing world of high school. If you’ve ever gone from homeschool to public school, or even just moved to another school district, you will most likely have experienced something akin to what Starbird’s going through.
    And even if you haven’t had that particular experience, you can probably still relate to Starbird’s boy trauma--old crushes conflicting with new ones, dating drama, those kind of things.
    In short, Starbird Murphy and the World Outside has a little bit of something for everybody. You will laugh at some parts, you will cringe at others, and even some will have your chest doing that weird rib-tightening thing because you really, really want to get to the end of the chapter to see what happens. Or maybe that doesn’t happen to anyone else.
    And just in case you need one last attraction to convince you to read this book, it has a cool book jacket. Personally, a stand-out cover always helps me decide whether to read a book or not. I’m not saying to judge a book by it’s cover or anything, but you know….
    Happy reading!
Starbird cover.JPG
Get the book here

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Fire

I don't really know how to start this post, so I'll just come out and say it: a whole block in Thousand Islands burned to the ground. I slept through all the sirens, but apparently the block where the ice cream parlor and the real estate agent is somehow caught fire and went up in flames late last night. Practically the whole town came out to watch (except sleeping me). Incidentally, the block also contained the fire trucks and ambulances, so they had to call in the trucks from another town to come put out the fire. Nobody was hurt, fortunately, and the hotel and the houses around the block are fine. But it's still kind of crazy.
The remains
I think a water pipe burst, and also they had to use a lot of water to get the fire out, so we have no water at our houses. We had to go scoop some from the lake to use to make our toilets flush. Anyway, for any of you Thousand Island regulars out there, this is probably just a bit of info you should know. I'm not sure what's going to happen with that block now. Maybe they'll rebuild? Who knows? Hope your day is going well and does not involve any burning buildings.

UPDATE: Around 12:30 our water came back on, thankfully. 
Getting water from the lake with my grandmother

--Ella

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Home

Hey, there. I've decided to enter Bethan's writing challenge. This is a little piece I put together called Home. Thanks for reading!



The air around me hung suspended, frozen. The tips of my fingers were unfeeling, crammed into my jacket pockets in hopes that the numbness would melt away. Winter pressed itself against me, squeezing the oxygen from my lungs and drawing tears that pricked like needles on my skin.
I could hear the trees murmuring to each other, great oaks whispering back and forth.
“Do you see her down there?”
“Yes. She’s standing by my trunk.”
“Where is she going?”
“Where do you think? The same place they all go, in the end.”
A breath escaped between my lips, and a pearly mist materialized before me, melting away as quickly as it had come.
But why not? This was the place where nothing stayed.
I heard it before I saw it. The sputtering and grinding of the engine, the tires crunching on the hard-packed snow. The headlights illuminated my figure, huddled by the curb, eyes too dark even to reflect the light.
The bus rolled towards me, its rusty doors already squeaking open before it lurched to a stop.
“You coming?” The driver had gray eyes. Ancient hands clutched the wheel like the branches of a gnarled tree.
I nodded, and stepped gingerly aboard. The smell of grease and ashes overwhelmed me. But there was something else there, too. Something familiar.
Three people. Three others like me. Stationed in their hard plastic seats, bent over and staring at the floor, clutching a backpack and looking stonily ahead.
I slowly lowered myself down. I could feel the aching in my knees, stiff and rusted and begging for relief. My hands found each other, and managed to fold onto my lap. They were still numb.
The doors scraped closed. The engine groaned but obediently sputtered on. Outside the dirt-streaked window, the oak trees did their best to wave goodbye.
“So, where are you headed?” The voice from beside me, quiet, tired.
I looked over. Raven hair. Ivory skin. A stranger. I turned back to the window.
“Home.”

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Bee Free

Yesterday was quite nice. I played soccer with my cousins, jumped off the dock, and had lunch at the little cafe/ice cream parlor on the corner. They sell little fruity Tootsie rolls for 1 cent each, which I think is a fair deal, so I bought some of those. They don't really have a beach here, but they do have a dock which you can jump off countless times. The water is pretty cold, but if you just jump in and swim out really quick you don't get too chilly. 

In the evening we went to the amphitheater where they screened the movie Rio. I've seen it already, but it was still funny the second time around. 

And good news! They cleared the other house of bees, so I moved in over there without having to worry about getting swarmed. I've never been stung, so for all I know I could be allergic. I'm not planning to test it any time soon. 

It rained on and off all day today. We stayed in the house and read and did jigsaw puzzles. It wasn't so bad, though. 

More later.

--Ella

I did this little doodle on my phone. Kinda random, but hey. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Thousand Islands

Today we drove up from my grandmother's house to Thousand Islands, where we are having our family reunion. We met aunts and uncles and cousins there and then went to find the houses we rented. Where we are staying there are basically a bunch of beach houses by the seaway and everybody drives around in golf carts. No joke. The last time I was in a golf course my friend and I were just riding bikes around for fun and then all these people yelled at us to get out of the course. So we did. But anyway, golf carts are nice when the people in them aren't yelling at you. 

One of the houses we rented turned out to have a problem: it was infested with bees! Apparently there were bees all over the carpet or something. So we are in another house while they somehow get rid of the bees. 

Probably no one else has noticed this, but there seems to be a pattern of bees in my blog posts. First, a couple weeks ago, my mom's friend's son got stung at Bread and Puppet, then last week my mom's friend's daughter got stung at World Fellowship, then this week our whole house is full of bees. Coincidence? I think not. 

 In other news, tonight was a supermoon, meaning that the moon was huge, and all red during the sunset. It was actually really cool. (Sorry about the photo; it doesn't do the sight justice.)

More tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Rose Petals

The final category in the photo contest on The Joys of Being Paige is "Something in Your Hand" so here you are! A few weeks ago I went to a wedding in New Jersey and I took this photo at the service.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

DIY: Painted Rock Markers

Hey there! Today I'm going to be doing a little DIY, showing you how to make cute markers for the plants or vegetables in your garden, using rocks and paint. Let's start, shall we?

What You Need:
1. Any number of fairly large, flat rocks.
2. One large paintbrush.
3. One small, fine paintbrush.
4. A variety of bright paints (nothing too dark, or the lettering won't show up.) I'd suggest acrylic paint. Definitely not watercolor.
5. One black or dark blue or purple paint (for the lettering.)
What to Do:
1. Lay out some newspaper on a flat surface, where you want to do your painting, and put the rocks on top of it.
2. Shake up your paints (don't want them to be separated!) and then open the paint cans.
3. Dip in your BIG brush and paint the first side of the rock or rocks.
4. Wait an hour or two for the paint to dry. Don't leave it out in the rain while it's drying, or it will wash away.

5. After they've dried completely, turn the rocks over and commence painting the other side. Let them dry again.
6. Now using your SMALL brush, dip it into the black/dark blue that you are going to use for your lettering. Before actually doing the lettering, I'd suggest penciling out the letters so you don't mess up.
7. Letter the rest of your rocks, and ta-da, you're done! They don't necessarily need to be for your vegetable garden; they can be for anything. You can do little pictures, or write your name...whatever you want. Have fun!
 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Old Sturbridge Village

I'm up at my grandmother's house in Connecticut, visiting for a couple of days before we head to a family reunion, and today we went and visited Old Sturbridge Village. It's basically a recreation of an 1800s-style village, with all the kinds of buildings they would have had back then, like a blacksmith shop and a farm, and even some houses that really people actually lived in during that time period. You can go into the shops and houses and look around to see how they lived. There are even actors walking the streets and working in the shops in costume. So, I took some photos! Enjoy!
The welcome sign
Sheep in the fields.
You could take a carriage ride! (We didn't, though)
Women dying their own yarn
Ground up sage and other plants, which will become dye.
Dye and wool boiling over the fire.
A cool old desk. Now on my I-WANNIT list.
Hanging out the laundry!
The general store.
Delicious candies from the general store.
A barn-type thingymajig.
Oxen grazing in the meadow.
Dang it! How did they know what I was planning...
Pigs chillin' in the shade.
Sheep hanging by the fence.
Blacksmiths at work.
Pottery kiln.
The master potter.
Covered bridge.
Dream catcher earrings my grandmother bought for me.
I love them!